Senate Democrats

Reid, Harkin Discuss Labor-HHS Bill That Will Make Critical Investments In America’s Priorities

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, held a press conference today to discuss Democrats’ bill to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.  The legislation will protect seniors, strengthen our education system, improve workers’ safety, and make Americans healthier by investing in research for diseases like Alzheimer’s, autism and cancer.

The Senators were joined by Tanya Allen, a teacher with Concerned Parents for Head Start in Paterson, N.J., and Phylecia Wilson, a cancer survivor and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network board member.

“This is a strong, fiscally responsible, bipartisan bill that funds important priorities that have been neglected for the past six years,” Reid said.  “It is incredible that President Bush can ask for $42 billion more for Iraq and in the very next breath threaten to veto critical investments for our country over a difference of half that amount.  He repeatedly says no to health care, no to law enforcement, no to homeland security, no to stronger infrastructure.  But he says yes to this intractable civil war in Iraq.  President Bush’s priorities are simply not those of the American people.”

Said Harkin: “For five years, Congress has appropriated countless billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars for schools, job programs, hospitals, and human services in Iraq.  Democrats and Republicans on the committee agree that it’s time to look after those same needs in our country.  This bipartisan bill includes modest, reasonable increases and remains a bare-bones, no-frills bill that conforms to a very conservative budget allocation.  I look forward to passing this bill tomorrow.”

“The $200 million increase for Head Start demonstrates the Senate’s priority on high-quality early childhood education for all children,” Allen said.  “It represents a solid down-payment by congress for Head Start and optimism that this important program will receive the extra funding it deserves in the future.”

Said Wilson: “Without NIH-funded clinical trials, new or important treatments would languish in the laboratory, never reaching the patients who need them.  I am only able to be here because I was able to get Gleevac through a clinical trial.”